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Review: KRK ROKIT Generation 3 Studio Monitors

A critical examination of the new ROKIT 4 two-way and ROKIT 10-3 three-way powered monitors.

By M. Erik Matlock October 12, 2015

It’s become a regular gig, opening boxes of toys and forming opinions for these reviews. Sometimes I’m impressed, sometimes not. Normally, I don’t have a problem keeping my cool and writing something moderately monotone.

This might be different.

For those who know the story, I have a pair of vintage Pioneer HPM-100 reference monitors from the 1970s in my office. These have been nicknamed “the lie detectors” because of how clean and accurate they are. No details escape them. So far, no other monitors have really impressed me.

Again, this might be different.

For the sake of amusement, I fired up Herbie Hancock’s “Possibilities” album and jumped over to the Christina Aguilera track “A Song for you.”

It’s become one of my favorites for hearing the full range of a system. Her voice matched with his piano is hypnotic. If there’s a weak spot in a system, that track will identify it.

ROKIT 4 two-way powered monitor

Once I got comfortable with Christina singing to me through the old lie detectors, I smugly switched over to the KRK ROKIT 4 monitors, first making sure that the rear panel controls were flat. By the way, each monitor offers an overall volume control, along with separate controls for lows and highs. There’s also the option of connecting with RCA, 1/4-inch or XLR plugs. Plugged them in, powered them up and hit play.

What I heard was not what I expected.

Although it isn’t fair to compare a pair of 4-inch monitors to the monsters I usually mix with, these blew me away. With the exception of low-frequency presence, which trails off around 75 Hz, they’re beautiful. The specs claim 51 Hz to 35 kHz, and these monitors are capable of that.

They also claim 30 watts of total power with 10 watts to the highs and 20 watts to the lows. Sure. OK. They sound much more powerful than any 30-watt boxes I’ve ever listened to. Clean, full and rich.

Rear panel of the ROKIT 4 two-way powered monitor

They’re also tiny. Each ROKIT 4 weighs in at about 8.7 pounds and stands about 9 inches tall. But don’t let that little footprint fool you—these are serious monitors. I’m impressed. If I were working in a smaller room or on a tight budget, they’d be my first choice, providing more than enough (and then some) for most projects.

From there, I moved on to the big brother, the ROKIT 10-3, a three-way box with a single 10-inch woofer, 4-inch mid and 1-inch tweeter. The power spec is 140 watts total, with 80 watts for the lows, and 30 watts each for the mids and highs. OK. Fair enough. That seemed justifiable, considering the size.

These are big monitors, more than 21 inches tall and weighing in at 46 pounds. Brace and balance yourself when lifting them out of the box; it’s not an easy one-handed grab.

KRK claims a response of 35 Hz to 25 kHz. I’ve seen other reviews talk about how completely unnecessary a subwoofer is for most rooms and projects. Several also raved about the overall sound quality and accuracy. But being a guy who processes hyperbole on a daily basis here on ProSoundWeb, I’m prone to brush off glorification.

So with that in mind, how do they sound?

My wife will vouch for my response: Wow. I actually yelled something like that across the room to her. The stereo image is wide and generous. The highs are crisp and detailed. The mids are honest and full. The low end… Yeah. Skip the subs.

ROKIT 10-3 three-way powered monitor

I went back to the Christina track. The love was all there. Every sparkling high and pulsing low greeted me with passion. It was the same result with Herbie. These monitors did absolute justice to my favorite tracks.

But I needed to verify that it wasn’t a fluke, and pulled out all of the tracks I’ve used over the years to find flaws in sound systems. Janice Ian’s “Breaking Silence” was perfect. Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” was perfect. Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” was perfect. Lionel Ritchie’s “Easy” was perfect. Motley Crue, Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon, Keb’ Mo’ and even the London Symphony Orchestra were all well represented.

I also pulled out some Nina Simone and dropped that sultry and dynamic voice on them to see what happened. “Feelin’ Good” was breathtaking. With my eyes closed, I felt like I was sitting in the room as she recorded it. I wanted to get her a drink of water because I could hear her lips touch.

Impressed. Sold.

With all honesty, I couldn’t identify any other monitors in this price range that have ever gotten my attention like these did. Give the KRK ROKIT Generation 3 serious consideration before buying anything else. These are the real deal.

Find out more about ROKIT Gen 3 monitors here.

Senior editor .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) has worked in professional audio for more than 20 years in live, install, and recording. Read more of his random rants and tirades here.

About M. Erik

M. Erik Matlock
M. Erik Matlock

Senior Editor, ProSoundWeb
Erik worked in a wide range of roles in pro audio for more than 20 years in a dynamic career that encompasses system design and engineering in the live, install and recording markets. He also spent a number of years as a church production staff member and Media Director, and as an author for several leading industry publications before joining the PSW team.


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